Presentation on theme: "Denominational Issues Town Hall Meeting Stockton Presbytery."— Presentation transcript:
Denominational Issues Town Hall Meeting Stockton Presbytery
The Changing Landscape or Why Are Some so Concerned? The Theological Discussion
Background 1861 – the PCUS and the PCUSA split. 1958 – the UPCNA and the PCUSA formed the UPCUSA. 1973 – the PCA broke away from the PCUS. Key issues were confessional standards and a “coercive” polity. The PCA currently has 1800 congregations. 1981 – the EPC broke away from the UPCUSA. A key issue was the required ordinationof women. The EPC has 300+ congregations. 1983 – the UPCUSA and the PCUS merged to form the PCUSA.
Declining Ministry Membership (UPCUSA and PCUS), 1967: 4,254,597 Membership (PCUSA), 2010: 2,016,091 The PCUSA (both before and after “reunion”) has declined every year since 1967. Recent yearly declines: –2010: 61,047 members –2009: 63,027 –2008: 69,381 –2007: 57,572 –2006: 46,544
Declining Ministry Small churches less than 100 people account for 51% of the denomination. Only 1500 of the 5439 small churches have an installed pastor. New Congregations: the PCUSA began new congregations at an annual average of 20 in the last five years. In 2011, it began 12 new congregations.
Authority of Scripture The Book of Order used to say: “Insofar as Christ’s will for the Church is set forth in Scripture, it is to be obeyed.” (G-1.0100c) The New Form of Government (NFOG) now says: “Scripture teaches us of Christ’s will for the Church, which is to be obeyed.”
Scripture - Ethics In 2006, the General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, AL, adopted the report on thePeace, Unity, and Purity of the Church, which allows governing bodies to decide for themselves whether particular candidates for ordination must adhere to the biblical and constitutional standard of living either in fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness. This action endorsed disobedience to Scripture.
Scripture - Ethics In 2008, the General Assembly acted to declare that the Definitive Guidance of 1978 and the Authoritative Interpretation of 1993 are null and void. “Interpretive statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the 190th General Assembly …and all subsequent affirmations thereof, have no further force or effect.” This Assembly also voted to amend the Book of Order regarding ordination standards (failed in the presbyteries, 78-95). These General Assembly actions disregard biblical teaching.
Scripture - Ethics In 2010, the General Assembly voted again to change the ordination standards of the Book of Order and issued what became Amendment 10-A. That amendment passed in the presbyteries, 96-74.
Scripture - Ethics That same Assembly urged the Board of Pensions to extend medical andpension benefits to same-sex domestic partners of covered members of the plan. That same Assembly narrowly defeated an effort to amend the Book of Order by redefining marriage as a relationship between any two persons (the vote was 324-348).
Scripture - Ethics Two sets of overtures are coming before the 220th General Assembly this summer that will have a radical impact on the understanding of marriage in the PCUSA, if passed. One set of overtures will allow pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages in states in which it is legal (in spite of the definition of marriage in our PCUSA constitution).
Scripture - Ethics Another set of overtures seeks to change the Book of Order and redefine marriage as a relationship between two persons. A total of thirteen different presbyteries are involved. More may be added. This, too, reflects continuing and widespread drift away from Scripture in the PCUSA.
Scripture – Salvation/Mission The 2008 General Assembly approved a call “To encourage congregations of these faiths [Jews, Christians, Muslims] to celebrate religious holidays together, setting aside days of worship during which there can be congregational suppers, and dialogue groups.”
Scripture – Salvation/Mission The NFOG opens with this line: “The good news of the Gospel is that the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people.” (F-1.01) As it stands, this presents salvation as a reality for all. At best, it is careless language; at worst, it introduces a different understanding of the mission of Christ and the church. Some call this a latent universalism.
Scripture – Salvation/Mission The NFOG description of the men, women, and children who comprise the church (G-1.0102) has deleted the line, “who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” which is in the former Book of Order at G-4.0101 and G-4.0103.
Scripture – Salvation/Mission NFOG reads: “In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, God sends the Church into the world to share the gospel of God’s redemption of all things and people.” (F- 1.0302d) The necessity of a response of faith is absent, though the Scriptures make it plain.
Scripture – Salvation/Mission The reference in the old Book of Order, which says that “Jesus came to seek and to save the lost” (G-3.0102) is absent in the NFOG. Is anyone aware of any reference in NFOG to Jesus Christ as the “only Savior and Lord”?
Scripture – Membership/Governance The NFOG states, “In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, God unites persons through baptism regardless of... theological conviction.” (F-1.0403) Regardless of theological conviction??
Scripture – Membership/Governance The same paragraph of NFOG includes, “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall guarantee full participation and representation in its worship, governance, and emerging life to all persons or groups within its membership.” This indicates that ordination to office is a right of membership without regard to one’s faith, manner of life, or giftedness, as the Scriptures teach. (Italics added)
Reaction of Global Church In 2011, the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico voted to end its 139-yearpartnership with the PCUSA. It voted to, “break off relations immediately, denouncing the sin and disobedience explicit to the Word of God that tells us that we must not be partakers of the same. ‘And I heard a voice from heaven saying: Go ye forth from her, my people, for you aren't involved in his sins...’ (Revelation 18:4)."
Reaction of Global Church The Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil is questioning their partnership with the PCUSA. They have called to prayer for us, including specifically, “Let us pray for the leadership so that they may reevaluate the decision taken which represents a surrender of convictions to the surrounding culture and a despising of the clear teaching of the Scriptures on this matter.”
Reaction of Global Church The Presbyterian Church in Ghana concluded its General Assembly in August, 2011 with a communiqué that concludes: “The Presbyterian Church of Ghana is further taking steps – a process which has began with its just ended General Assembly to sever relationship with any partner church local and foreign that ordained homosexuals as ministers and allowed for same sex marriages...."
Dr. Kenneth Bailey Immersed in the global church for over 50 years 40 years as a New Testament professor in the Middle East